The Phillies have acquired right-hander Erich Uelmen from the Cubs in exchange for cash and opened a spot on the roster by designating fellow right-hander Vinny Nittoli for assignment, per a team announcement. Uelmen was designated for assignment by the Cubs when they finalized their deal to re-sign southpaw Drew Smyly.
Uelmen, 26, made his big league debut with the Cubs in 2022, pitching to a 4.67 ERA with a 17.2% strikeout rate against a 9.8% walk rate in 27 innings. He averaged 93.8 mph on his heater, generally kept the ball in the yard (1.00 HR/9) and posted an above-average 47.6% ground-ball rate in that time.
That marked the continuation of a solid showing in Triple-A, where Uelmen tossed 42 innings with a 2.79 ERA and a huge 55.3% ground-ball rate. He also fanned 29.1% of his opponents in Triple-A, but Uelmen’s 12.8% walk rate clearly left plenty to be desired. He has a full slate of three minor league option years remaining, and he was dominant against fellow right-handers in 2022, limiting them to a .206/.282/.326 output.
Lefties had more success at .234/.390/.318, but if he can rein in his command, Uelmen could be a serviceable option against hitters from both sides of the plate. That’s easier said than done, of course, and Uelmen has walked 11.2% of the batters he’s faced in Double-A, Triple-A and the Majors combined.
Nittoli, 32, reached the Majors for the first time in 2021 when he tossed one inning for the Mariners. It was a tiny sample but a notable one for the former 25th-round pick, as it capped off an eight-year grind to the big league level. He split the 2022 season between the Yankees, Blue Jays and Phillies organizations, with Toronto flipping him to Philadelphia in an August swap. The Phils selected Nittoli to the Majors when rosters expanded on Sept. 1 and got a pair of scoreless innings out of him during his brief time with the big league squad.
Nittoli posted a 3.81 ERA in 52 innings between the Triple-A affiliates for the Yankees, Jays and Phillies in 2022, whiffing 30.8% of his opponents against a tidy 6.7% walk rate. He still has a minor league option year remaining, and the Phillies will now have a week to trade him or place him on outright waivers.